According to Western Sahara Resource Watch and Asociación Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui (Friends of the Saharawi People, Madrid), FMC Foret, a Spanish company based in Huelva, illegally imports about 500,000 tons of phosphates from the Western Sahara every year.. It produced in 1997 1,860,000 tons of phosphates. This production is conveyed by the longest conveying belt in the world (96 km) to the port of El Aayoune, and then exported to the USA and to Europe. The surroundings of Boukraa have been encircled with minefields by the Moroccan Army.
Both organizations gathered this information after verifying the list of shipments and consulting with staff at the seaport in Huelva. They thus reported that two ships, belonging to the company Ership, S.A., are the ones most frequently transporting illegal phosphates from the port of El Aayoune (Western Sahara) to the Huelva-based company’s wharfs. The ships are ‘Sac Flix’, with handling capacity of 16,000 tons, and 'Sac Malaga', with handling capacity of 30,000 tons.
The Western Sahara support groups claim that imports from this area in Africa are “absolutely illegal and in violation of international law,” because natural resources from the area do not belong to Morocco, “occupying power,” but they belong to a territory “illegally occupied."
Western Sahara Resource Watch and Asociación Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui recalled the declarations of Hans Corell, UN Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs, in January 2002, on the UN General Assembly public rejection and condemnation of the exploitation and plundering of natural resources, or any other economic activity performed to the detriment of the Saharawi people and their interests, and deprives them of their legitimate rights over their own natural resources.
Likewise, the organizations explained that, quoting Corell, “should natural resources exploration and exploitation activities continue without considering the interests and wishes of the Saharawi people, the principles of international law on mineral resources activities in not autonomous territories would be violated.”
Editor's note: Boukraa is located in the North of Western Sahara, 100 km South-East from El Aayoune. Its phosphate mine is exploited by Phosboucraa, a subsidiary company of the Office Chérifien des Phosphates, which holds the monopoly of the exploitation for Morocco
The mine of Boukraa